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Orange County Soccer Club shut out by Rio Grande Valley FC

Orange County's Michael Orozco executes a tackle against a Rio Grande Valley FC player in the first half on Saturday.
Orange County’s Michael Orozco executes a tackle against a Rio Grande Valley FC player in the first half on Saturday at Championship Soccer Stadium.
(Photo by Spencer Grant)

Coming off its first loss following an eight-match unbeaten streak, Orange County Soccer Club was eager for its chance to rebound just three days later.

It did not play out that way, as an early goal by Rio Grande Valley FC had the host chasing the game.

Juan Carlos Azocar scored in the second minute, and Rio Grande Valley defeated Orange County 2-0 on Saturday evening at Championship Soccer Stadium at the Great Park in Irvine.

Orange County (6-4-3, 21 points) is tied for second place in the United Soccer League Championship’s Pacific Division standings with the San Diego Loyal.

The hosts dropped their second straight game, the other coming against San Diego on the road on Wednesday. It marks the first time that Orange County has suffered consecutive losses this season.

“Obviously, don’t want to give up a goal right there in the first five minutes,” Orange County coach Braeden Cloutier said.

“We knew that we were coming into the game with a lot of heavy legs and a lot of miles that they’ve logged in the last three or four weeks, and we knew that if we dug ourselves a hole, it was going to make life really difficult.”

Wan Kuzain made a run off the left end, sending in a cross that Azocar was able to deposit into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

“Two minutes in, we’re down, and we have to chase the whole game, and it kind of changes the whole game,” Eero Markkanen said. “We stuck to our game plan, and we just couldn’t get the result today.”

Orange County managed to put three shots on target, all of which were stopped by Rio Grande Valley goalkeeper Tyler Deric.

The best chance for Orange County in the first half came in the 29th minute, when the host authored its best scoring bid from the run of play.

Midfielder Eric Calvillo stepped into a shot from just above the 18-yard box, and Deric was able to make a diving stop to his right. He grabbed a cross that followed to end the threat.

In the 56th minute, Orange County earned a free kick from close range. Chris Wehan, who came on as a substitution at halftime, bent his shot over the wall, but Deric again made the save.

Defensively, Kobi Henry had succeeded in denying Christian Sorto without conceding a corner kick on a well-played ball forward by Adrian Vera in the first half.

Henry, however, was the guilty party when Alexis Cerritos drew a penalty in the box in the 80th minute.

Rodrigo Lopez took the penalty kick and tucked it inside the right post to double the lead for Rio Grande Valley (7-3-3, 24 points), which is tied for first place in the Mountain Division.

Orange County appeared to break through in the 90th minute. Wehan sent an aerial cross to the back post for Brent Richards. The ball crossed the goal line, but the goal was disallowed with a foul on the play.

Patrick Rakovsky made two saves for Orange County in net.

“That’s where great teams come together and figure stuff out for the next game and try to get back on track,” Calvillo said of the mindset following the loss.

“To me, these two losses in a row really hurt, and I’m not trying to think of another loss like this again, or even trying to have a streak of losses. I want to get back to a winning streak.”

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